ninth April (UPI) – Paleontologists have discovered a set of dinosaur footprints with preserved skin patterns inside each.
"This is the first track ever found where perfect skin impressions cover the entire surface of each track," says Martin Lockley, professor of geology at the University of Colorado, Denver, in a press release.
The traces and skin traces were left by Minisauripus one of the smallest known theropods. The rare footprints were so small that they were almost destroyed in the early stages of a large-scale excavation near Jinju, South Korea, but the researchers discovered the delicate tracks just in time.
"The tracks were made on a very thin layer of fine mud, rather like a layer of fresh paint only a millimeter thick," Lockley said.
Analysis of the mud layers revealed the impression of rainfall. The rain fell just before the little raptor scampered over the mud. Footprints and skin impressions were quickly covered by another layer of mud that retained the traces for more than 1
Researchers resembled texture of the raptor's skin to medium sandpaper. The skin spores also revealed the pattern of the small scale scales – a pattern similar to the partial skin traces found in the prints of larger carnivorous therapeutic dinosaurs.
The latest results published this week in the journal Scientific Reports suggest South Korea was exceeded with miniature raptors during the chalk period.
Last year, researchers reported the discovery of prints that represent the smallest dinosaur yet to be discovered in a dried lake bed in South Korea.